It’s pretty much a running joke that the hardest thing to do is to get kids to eat their veggies. In fact, as a kid, you probably remember your parents constantly telling you to eat your veggies so you can grow big and strong. It’s not uncommon for kids to be picky eaters with aversions to textures and new flavors, so getting them to eat their vegetables can be a battle at mealtime.
Instead of fighting overeating the last piece of cold broccoli on their plate, there are much easier and even sneakier ways to slip in extra portions of vegetables each day. Instead of presenting vegetables as a side in a meal, more creative ways of serving them can help kids enjoy eating them without them even realizing it.
SNEAK VEGETABLES INTO SAUCE
Pasta is often an easy meal to prepare for kids and a favorite of all ages. Pasta sauce is a great place to sneak in a few extra vegetables. Because of the strong acidic flavor of pasta sauce, blending a handful of vegetables into the sauce is easy to get onto your kid’s plate unnoticed. Just be sure to pick vegetables that blend nicely and aren’t too obvious. For example, broccoli is often spotted by the tiny brussels if not blended completely.
A great way to add in some veggie without notice is to blend it right into the sauce. For example, steam a cup of carrots or cauliflower and run it through the blender before stirring it into your red sauce.
A bonus trick to get more vegetables with texture is to use a really chunky marinara sauce, so vegetable chunks go unnoticed. Start with just a quarter cup of vegetables and then work your way up to a cup slowly over the course of a few pasta dinners
MAKE VEGGIE NOODLES
If you have a more adventurous eater, you can try our veggie noodles. The most popular type are zoodles or zucchini that you put through a spiralizer kitchen tool and lightly cook. Use these zoodles as a pasta replacement in a traditional noodle dish. However, be careful not to overcook them because you want them to have a firmer texture as real pasta would. Then top with your kid’s favorite pasta sauce. You can even blend some vegetables into the sauce as well and get a double serving of vegetables all in one dish.
Zucchinis are not the only squash that works well as veggies noodles. You can spiralize butternut squash or yellow squash. These varieties of squash are often very mild in taste and work well when served warm with sauce.
The prep for these noodles is easy if you want to spiralize the whole squash at once and store it in an airtight container for 1-2 days. Then just take out the portion you want to cook. Lightly boil for a few minutes or just toss in the frying pan with a little bit of water to slightly soften and cook them.
RICE VEGETABLES INTO RICE
Rice is a staple at the dinner table in many homes. Because it’s a side dish and often served with something over it or with it, this makes it a great place to get an extra serving of vegetables in. Cauliflower has a mild flavor and a firm texture similar to rice. You can “rice” a head of cauliflower and mix it into a batch of real rice to serve for a meal.
To “rice” your cauliflower, all you need is a cheese grater. Grate the head of cauliflower and place it on a paper towel. For every 3 cups of rice you plan to serve, grate 1 cup of cauliflower. Press another paper towel on top of the grated veggie and press to soak up any additional moisture.
Cook your regular rice as you normally would. If you cook your rice with just water or veggie stock, place ¼ – ½ cup of either liquid on into the bottom of a frying pan and turn the burner on med heat. Once the liquid in the pan’s bottom starts steaming and almost simmering, place your cauliflower in and cook off the liquid (approx 5 minutes). Then take your cauliflower rice and mix it into your traditional rice and serve like you normally would.
If you have more adventurous kids, you can “rice” broccoli stems and try those. They have a great texture for rice but don’t blend in as well as cauliflower. While noticeable, broccoli stalks are still a mild-tasting way to add vegetables into rice.
BLEND VEGETABLES INTO SHAKES
If you have a child who loves fruit smoothies, then you have a perfect place to get in an extra serving of vegetables. Pick mild leafy greens like baby spinach or cucumber and add it to their drink.
Start with just a small handful of the vegetable so that the flavor change is barely noticeable. Then as you continue making it, you can add more until you’ve replaced about half of the fruit with vegetables instead.
A good place to start is about ¼ cup of mild leafy greens or a ⅛ cup of cucumber chopped and blended. Blend oh high and make sure there are no veggie chunks left in there before serving.
If your child enjoys bananas, add a small piece in their smoothie. This usually covers any taste from the vegetables if there is one.
GET CREATIVE WITH PREP
Moms are busy, and trying to find the energy to get creative at every meal might not happen. However, if you can find even just one way your kid likes a vegetable, it makes preparing veggies much easier. Perhaps they prefer carrots raw, but broccoli cooked with a squeeze of lemon and a salt dash over it.
Trying new seasonings can also help kids realize that even though they might not like a vegetable one way, it can be changed and enjoyed with different flavors.
Prepping milder veggies can help ease kids into new flavors and get them used to eating veggies. Baby spinach and baby broccoli are more tender and have a lighter taste. Red bell peppers are the least bitter of all of the multi-color bell peppers and a good one to introduce first. Smaller carrots can be sweeter than super-sized carrots, and trying different versions of the same vegetable can help kids ease into enjoying them more often.
ENJOY A SUPERFOODS CHOCOLATE MILK
Chocolate milk is delicious, but traditionally it’s filled with lots of sugar. Instead of the store-bought chocolate milk, you can add some greens to your child’s menu by making your own chocolate milk at home.
Superfood chocolate milk is simple to make and much healthier than what you get at the store. You’ll just need 8 – 12oz of unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk to make it. Add one scoop of Detox Organics Daily Superfoods and shake well. Pour over ice and enjoy! This treat has all the chocolatey goodness of traditional chocolate milk without all of the sugar. The best part is the chocolate superfoods containing over 25 raw, organic veggies and superfoods in each scoop.
Another great way to enjoy this chocolate milk is to warm it up like a superfood cocoa. Place your unsweetened almond, cashew or coconut milk in a small saucepan and warm over medium/low heat. Once the milk is simmering, you can whisk in Detox Organics Daily Superfoods until completely blended. Pour into a mug and enjoy.
Trying new ways to add in vegetables will help expand your kid’s pallet and get them to start annoying their greens without even knowing it. Remember, taste buds change, so don’t give up! Creativity can make veggies exciting for kids. And when all else fails, keep serving them and asking for just one bite each time. You never know which bite is the bite they finally enjoy.